Saudi Arabia has approved $24.5b for water, agriculture, and environment spending to allow government leaders to meet 16 goals set as part of its Vision 2030 development plan, Reuters reports.
The figure was stated by Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, Saudi Arabia’s minister for environment, water and agriculture at a speech at an industry conference in Riyadh. Reuters reports that Al-Fadhli said he received “support” from the government to achieve 16 strategic goals, but did not list those goals.
Also at the event, the government-owned Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corp (SWCC), signed a MOU with Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures to develop new technologies in water and power, and another MOU with water treatment firm Hyflux to build three desalination plants in Saudi Arabia. The SWCC is the organization in charge of desalination in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s need for water is atop a list of challenges facing the government.
Water supply for the Saudi Arabia is among its foremost challenges. A local study done by the King Faisal University last year found that Saudi Arabia’s timetable for water is much shorter than previously estimated. Saudi Arabia’s groundwater is now estimated to run out in the next 13 years, according to a water expert at KFU.
The number announced by the Minister is roughly half of what Deputy Minister Mansour Al-Mushaiti told the Water Investment Forum in November that would be needed in capital requirements in the next five years at $53.3 billion.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom is still working toward privatization of the SWCC. Ali Al-Hazmi, the head of the SWCC, said in November that future plants will be tendered to the private sector and that “everything is ready” for the organization to be privatized.
The Ministry is seeking to create an “investment platform” for the water sector in order to meet the 5% annual demand growth for water in Saudi Arabia.